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Kentucky governor loses bid for re-election

  • Story Highlights
  • Republican Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher loses
  • Democrat Steve Beshear is Kentucky's new governor-elect
  • Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wins a second term
  • Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City electing mayors
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(CNN) -- Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour won a second term Tuesday but GOP Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher was defeated in a landslide.

With about 97 percent of the precincts reporting in Kentucky, Democrat Steve Beshear had 59 percent of the vote, well ahead of Fletcher's 41 percent, according to results from the state elections board.

The Associated Press projected Beshear would win.

The AP also projected Barbour would win over his Democratic challenger, John Eaves. Barbour -- mentioned as a GOP vice presidential possibility next year -- held 55 percent of the vote with about a fifth of the precincts reporting.

In addition to the two gubernatorial races, several mayoral contests were on tap Tuesday. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom was favored to win a second term despite a messy sex scandal earlier this year that led him to seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

Also, in Utah, voters were deciding whether to approve a school voucher program that would give parents tax dollars to send their children to private schools.

The proposal has generated controversy because, rather than targeting low-income students in poor-performing schools, the far-reaching program would be available to families regardless of income or school performance.

When first elected four years ago, Fletcher was Kentucky's first Republican governor in more than 30 years. But his administration was dogged by an investigation into political interference in state hiring that led to Fletcher's indictment on three misdemeanor charges.

The charges were later dismissed after Fletcher acknowledged there had been wrongdoing in his administration, but the political damage had been done. His 2003 running mate, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, refused to run with Fletcher again, and the governor had to beat back a primary challenge from former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup.

Beshear, 63, is a former lieutenant governor and state attorney general. His win marks a pickup for Democrats among governorships, offsetting a Republican pickup last month in Louisiana. Overall, Democrats would hold 28 governor's posts, compared to 22 for Republicans.

In Mississippi, Barbour, 60, was seeking a second term in a state still recovering from the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Unlike neighboring Louisiana -- where Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco came under such fire in the aftermath of the storm that she didn't seek re-election -- Barbour's handling of Katrina bolstered his political prospects.

His Democratic opponent, Eaves, 41, a trial lawyer and born-again Christian, took a litany of socially conservative positions in his campaign, opposing abortion and same-sex marriage and calling for introduction of voluntary school prayer and Biblical literacy classes in the schools.

In San Francisco, Newsom, 40, a Democrat, was facing 13 little-known challengers in his bid for re-election as leader of the nation's 14th largest city. He was favored to win, despite a tsunami of damaging headlines after admitting in February that he had an affair with the wife of his campaign manager.

Newsom later announced he was seeking treatment for an alcohol problem.

Other cities electing mayors Tuesday included Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

State legislative elections were also being held Tuesday in Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, where Democrats were angling to take control of the state Senate. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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